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Kings Notebook (March 26)

by Rich Hammond / Los Angeles Kings
Matt Greene is still out for Saturday with an upper body injury.

That old hockey philosopher, a guy by the name of Gretzky, is quoted as saying, "You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take."

In other words, if you don't shoot, you can't score. It's a point that Kings coach Terry Murray is essentially driving to drive home this week, albeit with a deeper message.

The Kings have had difficulty generating offense in the first periods of their last two games and have failed to reach the 25-shot mark in three of their last six games.

It doesn't take Gretzky to determine that such numbers make it harder for a team to score, but the Kings' problem has also been about the quality of shots, not just quantity.

Shots from the perimeter, without net traffic, make it significantly easier on a goalie, and in Murray's estimation, the Kings aren't taking advantage of the offensive capabilities of their defensemen, of the shot of players such as Drew Doughty and Jack Johnson.

"I think we've gotten away from -- and the stats back it up -- away from the shots, putting pucks to the net," Murray said Friday. "That is a very clear stat that's popping up in the recent games. I know, whenever we come back to the bench after a shift, we're talking to the line about the net presence. We seem to be looking to cycle the puck more than getting possession, having the net presence established and getting pucks to the net.

"The other area that's creeping into our game is, the forwards are not seeing that the defensemen are open, up top, to make that tape-to-tape or indirect-board pass to them, and let them do their thing from the blue line, again, with the net presence. Too often now, as a result of that attitude, we're in the offensive zone, we cycle, it gets turned over and we're back to defending and tracking. That's a difficult game to play."

The Kings topped the 30-shot mark in their last two games, but half of those shots, in each game, were compiled in the third period, with the Kings trying to rally from two-goal deficits. Murray said he wants to see that type of attitude and play earlier.

"As you get into the third period, and you're looking for that comeback because you're down by a goal or two," Murray said, "now your attitude with everything is, `We've got to get pucks to the net now, because we need to climb back into this game,' and you're hoping that you're going to get a break with a redirection or a loose puck kicked out and somebody grabs a rebound."

Matt Greene, who has missed two consecutive games with an undisclosed upper-body injury, will miss Saturday's game against Dallas at STAPLES Center.

Greene was one of eight players to participate in a vigorous optional practice Friday, but after it finished, Murray said Greene "is getting better. He's day-to-day but he's not going to be in the lineup tomorrow."

Murray said he hadn't decided whether he would stay with the same lineup he used in Thursday's 3-1 loss to St. Louis.

"Possibly," Murray said. "I'm going to think it over here. I've got a couple extra bodies there, that I can use. I don't want to make changes for the sake of changes, but if I feel -- like last night, with (Scott) Parse -- that we can get four lines in back-to-back games, with a fresher player, a guy who has some offensive ability, I will make those decisions based on conversation and judgment of what we're facing."

A team's No. 1 goalie typically won't participate in an optional practice, but Jonathan Quick was on the ice for more than half of the Kings' practice Friday.

It's not that Quick isn't getting a lot of time. In fact, Quick is second in the NHL in games played (with 66, two fewer than Martin Brodeur) and minutes played (with 3,922:27, approximately 48 fewer than Brodeur).

There's a difference though, between game minutes and practice minutes. Practice is a time to work out potential flaws in a goalie's game, so Quick's presence on the ice Friday was born from Murray's desire to see him get some work in.

"Absolutely. Just a little maintenance work," Murray said. "All the drills that were done with him were about focusing on the puck, absorbing the puck, freezing it, on pucks that are shot into him. That's just the way of bringing attention and focus and concentration to follow the puck."

Before this season, Quick had never appeared in more than 60 games in a single season, at any level, but Murray said he's now concerned about fatigue down the stretch.

"I have awareness to the number of minutes. I don't have a concern with it," Murray said. "With the number of games played, No. 1 goaltenders have to play those number of games. The history of the game shows that when you have a clear-cut No. 1, he's going to get up there in that stat. I think he's looking good. He's strong, he's feeling good, he's got a really good attitude about coming out and playing every night, and I think, in the big picture of his career, I think this is going to be tremendous for his mental toughness."
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